March 31, 2016 Zhou Jia

How long should a workout take?


Take an average of how long people spend in the gym and you’ll likely find the answer is somewhere close to an hour. Group classes such as spinning and yoga are often arranged in one hour slots. Popular home workout programs such as p90X and Insanity use routines which last between 50 minutes and one hour. Even most schools Physical Education classes last around one hour. But is there anything besides habit which stipulates that a workout should last for 60 minutes?

As most of our Prime Fitness customers have experienced first hand, many of our personal training sessions last only 30 mins. High intensity interval training (HIIT) programs, as well as Tabata workouts, all allow remarkable physical adaptations (i.e. improved muscular strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, reduced body fat) from participants engaging in short, intensive periods of exercise.

The key to understanding these “types” of training is to realize two things – firstly, that it doesn’t take a long time to exhaust the body, and secondly, that just a few maximum or near maximum efforts at whatever exercises you are doing are sufficient to force the body to make adaptations. If you’re in any doubt, try the following: Do as many push-ups as you can with proper form. Wait for one minute and do it again. Repeat this test every other day and see what happens to your scores. When our trainers perform this type of test with our clients, they are amazed when after just a few weeks they can do twice as many push-ups as when they started. The key point is that they are pushing themselves to the limit every time – that’s something you rarely see people doing when they exercise.

Workouts don’t need to last for one hour to be effective. What is important is choosing exercises which work the entire body and performing them hard enough that you can feel it the next day. So don’t ever let a lack of time be an excuse – even 10 to 15 minutes is enough time for a good workout provided you’re willing to push yourself.